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30 Apr

More hamsters


If you tear up tissue into smallish pieces and put them into your hamster cage, they’ll chew them up and line their nests with them. One of mine gets pretty fancy about it, too. This always makes me feel guilty when I clean the cage, because it destroys her fancy nest-work and has to start all over. I guess it gives them something to do tho.

The lighter grey hamster has learned that a hand inside the cage equals probable tasty treats, and thus she stands up on her hind legs, waving her front paws in the air to grab my finger in anticipation. Sometimes she even stands up like that if she sees I’m walking around in the room. She kind of looks like a mini-dancing bear. I could probably train her to walk on her hind legs as a ‘trick’, but I’m too lazy. It’s really cute tho.


27 Apr

The new pets: dwarf hamsters

dwarf hamsters

During the early Winter I finally decided to acquire some dwarf hamsters as pets. They’re very small and as adorable as can be. These two have very different personalities and so…you guessed it…I have a favorite. The one on the right. She’s light grey, more active/amusing and more affectionate. For a hamster, that is.

dwarf hamster

Much as I love cats, I’m still unsure if I want another cat once Baby dies - the care and time-commitment isn’t as appealing to me now as it was when I was twenty - and since dwarf hamsters are VERY simple to care for and have a short lifespan, I thought they’d be an option. I’d really like a squirrel, but, well, that’s not an option here. Dwarf hamsters are awesome tho, so I’m happy.

And no, Baby-kitty isn’t jealous. ;)

06 Jun

Baby sees a real bird

cat sees bird

Real birds are much more interesting than “Da Bird.”
I still let Baby outside once a day or so. He still wanders the concrete patio area for 2 minutes than goes back inside on his own. I think he considers the patio another “room” in the house, and probably thinks to himself “It’s too squinty-bright out here, the wind & dust makes me sneeze, and this floor is really hot on my paw-pads. Back to the cave-rooms for me.” Which oddly enough is often my own personal sentiment about the outdoors.

29 May

A homemade “Da Bird” cat toy

I’ve read about this cat toy called “Da Bird.” Everyone seems to swear by it and love it, so I looked it up. Turns out it’s essentially feathers attached to a string attached to a pole of some kind. Now, I don’t know the exact mechanics of this popular cat toy, but my thought was: “I’ve been using leather shoelaces/crinkly plastic and part of a fishing pole for years, this isn’t new.” My cat Misty loved that fishing pole/leather shoelace thing - she’d chase it for hours, drag it around the house, and would even bring it to me as I sat on the couch watching TV.

The most obvious difference of Da Bird is the feather tip. And I suspect Da Bird uses a more stretchy, springy type string than leather bootlaces. Still, since I’m cheap and like to tinker with things, I thought I’d try making my own Da Bird. Kind of. I mean, y’know, it won’t have the springy string to make it bounce around, but that’s what arm muscles are for. And a leather shoelace lasts for years. I know, because the toy Misty played with I only ever used one shoelace for it, and it lasted for a decade. Alas, I don’t have that fishing pole piece anymore, so I’d have to improvise for the stick.

The local Walgreens had a cat toy that consisted of feathers attached to velcro-backed cloth, which then was stuck to cloth covered balls. These came three to a package, for four bucks. Then the leather shoelaces - about the same price for a pair, maybe it was closer to six bucks, I don’t recall. Eight to ten bucks for 3 imitation Da Birds. Maybe even 4 or 5, if I split the feathers - there are more feathers on these ball-toys than on the Da Bird’s I’ve seen. Now, I’ve seen Da Bird advertised on-line for about $6-$8 each (Edit:they’re a bit cheaper now, in 2010), not including feather refills. So it’s not tons cheaper to make your own, but for me at least, it’s a lot more fun than just buying. You could probably do it cheaper than I did, too. I wasn’t trying to be ultra-creative. Anyway, I took the feathered ends of one of these cat ball toys and unvelcro-ed the feathers from the actual ball, so I was left with just the feathers+cloth they were attached to.

cat toy cat toy

Next, I went into the backyard. One of the big trees that covers our yard drops thin branches all the time. I scrounged around until I found one that would work as a stick handle. I tied a shoelace around one end of this stick. Then I took the “feather bundle” and with a small pocket knife made a slit in the attached fabric. I threaded the shoelace through that, tied it off, and wallah. I have feathers on a string on a stick. Probably more durable than Da Bird, too, based on pictures I’ve seen.

cat toy cat toy

So, I had my homemade feather toy. All I needed was a cat to try it out on. I called out for Baby, who eventually got out of his sleeping basket to come see what I was fussing about. He meowed in greeting and sat at my feet. I tossed the feathers in front of him and jiggled the toy around. I skated it around the floor, made it jump and leap in the air, and I walked around the couch dragging it behind me. During all my efforts, Baby stared at it curiously. I believe he yawned a few more times. He occasionally stuck out a paw to poke at the feathers. He meowed some more. After a bit, he followed me around the couch, but mostly because that’s what he always does - follow-the-leader - he didn’t seem very interested in the toy itself. After a while he even seemed a bit annoyed that I had woken him up for such silly non-food-related shenanigans.

cat ignoring toy

I kept at it for a few minutes longer, and Baby finally did have a few burst of playful energy, as illustrated by the next photo. But I wouldn’t exactly say the toy was a successful hit or anything. Heheh.

cat playing with toy

Man, Misty would have loved this toy. Bailey would have too, as well as Moochie and Stripe and…. But to be fair, Baby has never been a “playing” kitty. One of those few cats who just doesn’t “play”. He won’t even chase after laser pointer dots, for example. Completely ignores the dot…sometimes he runs away from the red dot, even. All my cats who were obsessively playful are gone, and I’m left with this elderly, neurotic, anti-social, skittish but sweet cat who likes to beg on his hind legs and bite fingers as his form of entertainment. So I guess my homemade Da Bird shall have to await a possible future kitten to get any real use out of it. :)

28 May

Baby goes outside part2

cat wants inside

When I let Baby outside, I leave the sliding door open a bit so he can rush back in if he gets nervous. This afternoon I closed it so I could take these pictures. Yes, I’m so mean, no, Baby wasn’t actually terrified or anything, and yes, I let him back in.

Of course, as soon as I went outside again, he followed me right back out. I sat in a chair, and he walked in circles around the chair. I got up and walked to one side of the cement patio, and he followed. I walked to the other side, and he followed. I went back inside, he followed. He’s glued to my side, apparently.

And apparently, it’s Baby photos week on Candid Crimson.

23 May

Cat health update

Just an update on how my cat is doing.
Baby-kitty had two back teeth that were broken off at the root. It didn’t look a super-recent breakage, so I don’t know how long they were like that…could be a few weeks, could be months…but since that seemed like a likely culprit for his facial swelling, I gave the nod to remove them. The vet I went to was a short hop away…they seemed efficient and pleasant. When I went to pick him up several hours later, the vet whipped out a plastic mold of a cats teeth/gums - it looked like a set of dentures for cats - and proceeded to show me what teeth had been removed etc. Nice customer-service touch. More importantly to me, tho, was the fact he said he found another tooth that looked like it needed removing, so he went ahead and did that…it didn’t appear to me that he charged me any extra for it, either.

The vet gave me an amusing story about the teeth removal…how he went in and one of the back teeth came out, root and all, very cleanly. The other tooth was more brittle (even the root) and prone to breakage. So when he x-rayed Baby’s mouth to see if he’d gotten all the root, he saw a spot on the xray and thought to himself “more root” and went back in to try and get it. Another x-ray - another spot. Tried to remove it. Another x-ray, another spot. By then the vet figured he’d gotten most of it out and the remaining bit would either be harmless or would work its way out on its own….the vet didn’t want to go messing too deep into Baby’s skull, especially when the patient in question is a senior citizen of the cat kingdom. So I guess Baby had a tooth root that practically went up to his eyeball…an eyetooth? Hahaha…

Baby came home and was all wigged out from his experience - not to mention the painkillers the vet gave him - running around the house like he was on speed. He seemed to be eager to eat again, however, and for a day or so was gulping down the chow. Then for about 24 hours he stopped eating again…even tho the swelling of his face had gone down a lot. At first I worried, but then thought that maybe once the painkiller wore off, the holes in his gums were sensitive…perhaps taking big normal bites was causing the food to stick in those holes too much or something.

This evening he finally became hungry enough that when I put some food down, he used his paw to “scrape” some out of the dish, and licked his paw clean. In that fashion he cleaned his plate, which made both him and myself happy.

So he seems to be on his way to being well. The vet, btw, said Baby looked “really good” for his age…his other non-broken teeth were fine, with far less tartar than one would expect, and his actual gums seemed non-inflamed…plus his general appearance/weight/muscle etc. was very good. Baby went through a rough patch for a few months w/those seizures, but the past couple he’s been doing really well - except for the stiff hips, you’d hardly realize he was going on 18 years. I guess the move has been good for him? I wonder if Baby will be one of those rare cats that ends up living to be 20 years old. That’d be neat. Then again, he could fall over and die tomorrow.

I’m so cynical. :D

Edit: I’ve had a lot of photos I wanted to post, but between sick-cat and my thumb issues I’ve been…well, not in a big blog mood. Plus trying to reduce my computer time (again) because of the hands, so I haven’t done much photo work beyond clicking the shutter. :) Hopefully I’ll get back to some more regular posting of pictures again soon.

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